Paganini and Marfan syndrome

Since the 1950s scientists have increasingly agreed that Paganini was probably a victim of Marfan syndrome—although beneficiary seems a more appropriate word than victim.

The typical characteristics of this pathological condition—a tall, thin body and particularly long, thin arms and hands—are perfectly in keeping with the virtuoso’s somatic characteristics, noted by all who described him and confirmed by the concert sketch by the poet and painter L.P.A. Burmeister , who is the only artist known to have reproduced the violinist’s exact physiognomy (above; click to enlarge).

There can be no doubt that Paganini’s abnormal ligaments—together, of course, with his extraordinary musical talent—were a definite advantage, and by no means a handicap, in his chosen career.

This according to “Nicolò Paganini (1782–1840)” by G. Sperati and D. Felisati (Acta Otorhinolaryngologica Italica XXV/2 [April 2005] pp. 125–128). Today is Paganini’s 230th birthday! Below, Jascha Heifetz play’s the composer’s Caprice, op. 1, no. 24.

1 Comment

Filed under Romantic era, Science

One Response to Paganini and Marfan syndrome

  1. What a great piece. Thank you for posting. Another composer who was perhaps impaired was Anton Bruckner- he ran around with fifteen-year-old girls. His first symphony, “The Saucy Maid”, is fantastic. Have you heard it?